AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: We examined the properties of a mutant insulin receptor (IR) with an Arg(252) to Cys (IR(R252C)) substitution in the alpha-subunit originally identified in a patient with extreme insulin resistance and acanthosis nigricans. METHODS: We studied IR cell biology and signalling pathways in Chinese Hamster Ovary cells overexpressing this IR(R252C). RESULTS: Our investigation showed an impairment in insulin binding to IR(R252C) related mostly to a reduced affinity of the receptor for insulin and to a reduced rate of IR(R252C) maturation; an inhibition of IR(R252C)-mediated endocytosis resulting in a decreased insulin degradation and insulin-induced receptor down-regulation; a maintenance of IR(R252C) on microvilli even in the presence of insulin; a similar autophosphorylation of mutant IR(R252C) followed by IRS 1/IRS 2 phosphorylation, p85 association with IRS 1 and IRS 2 and Akt phosphorylation similar to those observed in cells expressing wild type IR (IRwt); and finally, a reduced insulin-induced Shc phosphorylation accompanied by decreased ERK1/2 phosphorylation and activity and of thymidine incorporation into DNA in cells expressing IR(R252C) as compared to cells expressing IRwt. CONCLUSION/INTERPRETATION: These observations suggest that: parameters other than tyrosine kinase activation participate in or control the first steps of IR internalisation or both; IR-mediated IRS 1/2 phosphorylation can be achieved from the cell surface and microvilli in particular; Shc phosphorylation and its subsequent signalling pathway might require IR internalisation; defective IR endocytosis correlates with an enhancement of some biological responses to insulin and attenuation of others.
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